Snow plow drivers prepare for winter with "dry snow run"

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COLUMBIA - Wednesday marked the National Weather Service's Winter Weather Awareness Day in Missouri, and Columbia Public Works crews took the day to prepare for the winter conditions ahead.

Preparation included a “dry run” for snow plow drivers to get familiar with their routes and putting up signs where regular drivers cannot park if more than two inches of snow has accumulated.

Jason Lampkins has been part of the snow removal team for about four years and he said road safety is a top priority.

“I want to make sure everyone in the community can make it to work and home safely,” Lampkins said.

For snow removal days, he said he normally works a ten-hour shifts.

Lampkins said one of the biggest challenges as a snow plow driver is a narrow street with cars parked on both sides.

“If it’s on a priority street we just call in and have them ticketed and towed. Other than that, it’s a matter of dodging them. You have to go in and out of where they’re parked at and get the street all cleared,” he said.

Lampkins said snow removal is not as easy as it seems; it requires a lot of focus and concentration.

“You have to be aware of surroundings, traffic, people and common road hazards.”

And there's more.

“You have to take into consideration the distance you have out in front of you, the distance you have behind you and not all trucks can turn very sharp, so you have to plan ahead to be able to turn.”

Lampkins said he also has to pay attention to where he drops salt or treatments because those are only laid down in certain areas.

All of the salt, solutions, plows and trucks are stored next to Columbia’s salt dome off of Rangeline Street.

“We house 5,000 tons of salt in our storage facility,” Street Maintenance Superintendent Sam Thomas said, “Typically we make it through a season with this salt, it just depends on the winter, of course.”

Thomas said the city prepares as much as it can for the winter months so that the community is safe on the road when the storm hits.

“We are always looking ahead. Even with nice weather like this, to us it’s just smoke and mirrors. This doesn’t mean you let your guard down.” Thomas said.